“Early on I learned to live with cultural diversity. I think that’s why I was intrigued with Maryknoll.”
In Sister Jane Heckathorn’s hometown, Watertown, SD, her family lived near many Indian reservations and her father was a friend to the native Americans in a climate of discrimination. After studies at the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis General Hospital, Jane returned to South Dakota and worked as an x-ray technician for seven years before entering Maryknoll in 1963.
Her assignment to the Philippines in 1966 involved her in health services in Manila and the southern provincial area of Cotabato. She earned a degree in Social Work from the Centro Escolar University in Manila to prepare for social and community development work in Upi, Cotabato with a diverse population of Muslims, Christians and native tribes. Working in the mountains with the Tiruray tribe, she trained teachers and helped organize educational programs in agriculture, medicine, para-medics and child care. During a time of violence, her work became mainly resettlement and maintenance of the displaced persons. She helped organize a team who was able to take over this work when she left the Philippines.
For four years she worked on a team of Maryknoll Sisters in Mission Education and World Awareness Programs in the schools and churches of the Western U.S. In 1984, Sister Jane was assigned to the Western U.S. Region. She accepted the job of executive producer of “Video Edition,” a weekly television news magazine of the Oakland diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Voice. It was a source of ethical analysis of current events and issues. Sister Jane received awards for two of her programs. Video Edition aired its final program in 1987 because of lack of funds.
Sister Jane continued working in Oakland as a social worker and counselor in Casa Vicentia, a home for single pregnant women in crisis, and was Editor-in-Chief of “Casa Communique,” the quarterly newsletter. Presently she works on the administrative staff of Sophia Institute, a graduate program in Culture and Spirituality at Holy Names University.